Zack Ward Talks About Bringing The Dude To Film
He may have gotten his start as the neighborhood bully Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story, but a quick search of IMDB finds that Zack Ward has been in a ton of movies and TV shows. With everything from Transformers to Walker, Texas Ranger under his belt, it's about time he landed a starring role.
He gets his chance in February when Postal hits theaters. Based on bad-boy developer Running With Scissors' hit Postal and Postal II computer games, the movie takes that same irreverent humor and puts it on the big screen. Taking swipes at everything from Christian conservatives to 9/11 to women with large breasts, Postal is sure to be at least as controversial as the games, but Ward assured us that the crazy over-the-top humor gamers are expecting would not be lost in translation. He guarantees viewers an awesome experience, and is in a position to deliver since he is taking over the role of The Dude, star of the movie and the game.
Ward sat down for an exclusive interview with GiN's own Todd Hargosh for an extremely frank (and profanity laden) talk about Postal, its critics, and just how a redheaded neighborhood bully grows up to become The Dude.
Go ahead and read on. We triple dog dare ya!
GiN: Could you provide us with a little background about yourself?
Ward: I was born in a little town called Bethlehem. My father didn't really want to take responsibility for me so I'm a bastard child of God. A lot of people came to the birthing. I couldn't really get a place to stay so we did it in a manger or a dog kennel back then.
No seriously, I'm from Toronto, Canada, and have been acting since I was 10 years old, did A Christmas Story when I was 13. I moved to Los Angeles back in 1994. I'm that child actor that doesn't do heroin, doesn't f— cats, constantly works.
I'm what they call "famous lite." People look at me with a confused look on their face. They think I dated their sister or knew them in high school. I'm just a huge movie star you never heard of.
GiN: I do remember seeing you in Transformers. You were the soldier that said "English dude"English!" That was right before Skorponok wasted you.
Ward: Thank you very much. I wrote that line myself.
GiN: Tell us a little about the Postal movie.
Ward: Postal is a hilarious political comedy. One of the few things that actually has any balls. It's based on the video game but quickly gets involved with political satire. Takes a lot of pokes at the right wing Christians and Muslims, as well as fat people, midgets, monkeys, Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall), hot chicks. Shows a lot of breasts, which I'm sure a lot of people don't like. They were probably born and went right to formula.
Me, I'm a breast man.
The way to describe Postal is if South Park and Robot Chicken were working their way through college, and had to do porn on the side for their tuition. This would be their illegitimate baby.
GiN: What did you do in order to prepare for your lead role as the Dude?
Ward: The Dude to me had to be a very sympathetic character. In this film he's the only stable person in a crazy world. I wanted to keep him as honest and genuine as possible, so to the audience he would reflect that genuine concern. So I worked out a lot, but didn't want to get big because I start off as a nerd in the movie. I wanted to stay thin and I do a lot of running and fighting. I didn't want to pull a hamstring or mess anything up. I also wrote for it, and worked with Dave Foley practicing comedy. What we call in the industry, working for comedy gold.
GiN: How is this role compared to some of your previous characters (Christmas Story, Transformers, etc?)
Ward: They are exactly the same.
GiN: Except you're not being beat up by a blonde nerd or impaled and tossed around by an alien robot scorpion.
Ward: Well you know what's funny? For once, I actually LIVE! In Transformers, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and several other movies I get killed off. I think it's because of A Christmas Story they always want to kill off the redhead.
I am the epitome of bully redheads. This one, I like the arc of the character. He actually comes off in the very beginning being a pathetic loser, and he gets a slow building to going postal. Becomes that Clint Eastwood type, asking "Did I fire five shots or six?"
But the thing is, you have to believe that. Case in point, if you were coming up as a nice, genuine, sweet guy, then whipped out a bunch of guns, willing to kick the crap out of somebody, I would not believe that, because it's not your vibe. But if you build it up to the point where you are pushed up against the wall, and finally snapped, and you genuinely meant it, that's the point where you can take the audience with you. When you end the movie the audience will believe you, as opposed to asking "what the f— was that?"
I think we really succeeded in accomplishing that. For me it was a big opportunity as I'm starring in a $15 million dollar movie. I've starred in movies that were under a million, but nothing this big, so it was very important to me to create a character arc that was believable and sympathetic.
GiN: Have you ever played Postal or Postal 2?
Ward: Yes I have.
GiN: So you do know about its over the top violence?
Ward: Only if you choose to be violent, as you can actually go through the whole game without hurting anyone.
GiN: Speaking of the over the top violence, as you may know, we have Jack Thompson in attendance tonight"
Ward: He's B.S.
GiN: I will agree with you there.
Ward: F—ing retarded. That's what I'm saying. We had the same b—s— when I was a kid with comic books, Spider-Man, X-Men, so and so. He can s— my d—. If you can't be responsible for those in your own family, don't ask for somebody else to.
Back in 1978, they were blaming KISS for kids going off and shooting people. You know what? Stupid f—ing people do stupid f—ing s—! Doesn't matter where they are from, what culture, what ethnicity, what religion they are. There are Jewish f—heads, Christian f—heads, Muslim f—heads, white f—heads, Chinese f—heads. Every culture has a f—head! Now if we can put them on the Island of F—heads, F—opia, we can do that! But we can't.
Video games have got nothing to do with that. Matter of fact, are you going to blame video games, or books or movies? You going to blame Taxi Driver, when he goes off killing people? Why aren't we going after Robert de Niro? Didn't someone shoot someone three or four years after Taxi Driver? Is it Taxi Driver's fault?
If you can't look after your own family, then you shouldn't have them out of your house. And you're the one responsible for whether or not they turn out as violent individuals. All these f—heads are just riding onto publicity in order to gain attention and sell a product. I bet my balls that he's working this up to the point that he's getting paid for his opinions, either on a product or on a circuit tour.
I'm plugging Postal for free! I don't see him making anything, and would love to see him come up with something of an alternative. If you are going to critique a film, critique MY work. I'll go over Almost Famous with you. I'll show when they introduce my character, Red Dog, what part of that performance I liked, and why I don't like the other parts. But you can't just tell me "you're bad."
GiN: Or he'll come up with some of his own personal rhetoric. I know he's under consideration for disbarment.
Ward: He’s a LAWYER?
GiN: I’m not kidding you. He’s a lawyer based in Miami.
Ward: You know here’s the thing. My father married a beautiful woman by the name of Alice McArrow. Half my family is black, and I’m very proud that in this country, and in Canada, the KKK can walk down a street and voice their opinion. I'm very proud of that. I may disagree with what you have to say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.
That's what Postal is about. That is what the United States is about, that we should never curtail our freedom of opinion. Just as Jack Thompson can come here and say what he thinks, I can tell him what I think of him, and if wants to prove his point, he can come up to me. And if he's going to try to use his "legal-ese," I'm sorry, I got too many divorces under my belt, I can talk as good as he can.
Have you ever seen how much work and craftsmanship it takes to make these games? I was at the premiere for The Simpsons Game. It was awesome. I got to meet Matt Groenig, and got autographs from these designers who spent four years developing the different software and creating a piece of art that you can interact with. Is Thompson going to call that "mundane?" I'm sorry. It's a new environment that we tell a story and have to have commonality. And the fact that he feels isolated from it, he's just looking to find a buck from idiots.
That's like the people who can say they can teach you not to be gay. Get the f— out of here. If you're gay, you're gay. Go have a good time!
GiN: How accurately will Postal's humor carry over to the movie?
Ward: Very much. We actually have the cat silencer in the film. We couldn't use Gary Coleman since he's a born again Christian now, and won't do a film with any swearing in it. He said he would be in the film if the swearing was removed, but Uwe Boll said (in a German accent) "Ja right then go f— yourself."
The movie is audacious, outrageous, and there's nothing out there like it right now. It's like any other piece of art you’re involved with, all I can see are the flaws. I watch the audience when I am watching the film. I watch the way their mouths hit the floor, and they start laughing and say "I can't believe this part. And I can't believe you did that." I then say "Really? Good," because I don't know the last film I can talk about like that.
Is any movie perfect? No. I was in Transformers, a $150 million movie. It's not perfect. There are moments in Transformers that sucked, and it's a $150 million film, so I think we did a damn good job.
And now Postal is pushed to February because we were going to come out against Hitman and other giant movies. We'd get slaughtered; we're not a studio film and only someone like Uwe Boll would put $15 million into a film that questions 9/11, George Bush, Osama bin Laden, right wing Christians and mix the whole thing.
No one else would make a joke out of that. In fact the last time I saw something like that was Dr. Strangelove, Catch-22. They don't even make movies like that anymore; they can't even get them financed. And for all his other crap movies, this is the best he's ever done. If this is the only good thing he's ever done, then his life is worthwhile.
GiN: Do you have any last messages to your fans, or any of Uwe's critics?
Ward: Yeah I do. For all my fans, you've known me since A Christmas Story, and I think of them not as fans, but part of my process. If people don't want to see what I do then I don't have a job, and I feel really blessed to do what I love for a living.
But you've known me since Scut Farkus, since Titus, Almost Famous, Wild America. I've done over 50 movies, now this is the one I want payback. I want people to sit their asses down during the opening weekend in February. If Postal does a good opening weekend, my life changes.
I've done A Christmas Story as a kid, you see me every year. I don't get dime one. I've been part of your family all your life. Pay me back. Give me $12, sit down and watch the movie. Please. If you don't like it, email me, and if we have a good opening weekend, I'll be able to pay you back! But I'm just asking for this one.
Give me one, people. It's all I need.